A Photograph of the Mind

My wife always forces me to make unnatural poses for a Snapchat or Instagram photo. She tells me “smile!” but if I wasn’t already smiling, then the photo is a lie. I’m being pedantic just to say, I hate hate posing for photos. It’s more of my introverted nature than anything to do with worrying about faking an emotion.

I’m really not sure when this started. About a decade ago I remember being extremely extroverted. I was an arrogant teenager, and I probably loved taking photos of myself. Something unhinged in my twenties, where I’m now extremely reserved and internal. You’d have a hard time finding a photo of me anywhere.

But while a photo captures the light information of an environment and re-enacts it on a two-dimensional screen, I like to think of writing as a photograph of the mind. There’s really no other way to capture what’s inside. Instead, you have to bring it out. I used to write frequently even when I had an audience of zero. It was a way for me to place a bookmark in my life, and take a snapshot so that I remember the significance of a given day.

There seems to be something similar between the act of capturing a photo and capturing the words of your mind. However, the aching desire of my wife, and perhaps almost every other woman I’ve met, to take photos and capture the moment never ceases to confound me.

In the moment, I never stop to think "I should interrupt the flow of this moment to take a photo of this moment". Stopping to take a photo in the heat of a moment seems antithetical to the moment. All that to say, I never could, and still don’t, understand the seemingly instinctual need to take photos of every passing second. My wife yells at me for being the worst photo-poser she’s ever met. I’m ruining her memories.

But if photos are simple snapshots of a time, and writing is just the same, then I may be making progress.

My wife likes to revisit old photos and reminisce on them. I find it cute, if not silly. But hypocritically, I’m just the same. I’ll go back and revisit things I wrote years ago, and think back to the moments that were. Writing is more vivid to me, because I can’t guess at how I felt from a photo. With writing, feelings come flowing back to me. And if that’s how a photograph makes others feel, then it is indeed a fantastic emotion.

The common emotion between all state-capturing arts seems to be remembering. Who would have thought that would be one of life’s sweet pleasures?

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